OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Leadership born of the wilderness

"In the unpredictable, challenging, dynamic wilderness environment, our participants learn five key principles—practice leadership, lead from everywhere, behave well, keep calm, and disconnect to connect—that apply directly to today’s business world"

Photo of DeletedUser
3 3

Written by DeletedUser


April 2012 HBR's article  Wilderness Leadership—on the Job describes the NOLS - "National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), we take 15,000 executives, students, and armed services members into the wilderness each year to help them develop leadership skills...In the unpredictable, challenging, dynamic wilderness environment, our participants learn five key principles—practice leadership, lead from everywhere, behave well, keep calm, and disconnect to connect—that apply directly to today’s business world"

The organization is an example of a long tradition of putting people in extreme environments in order to learn team-building and leadership skills.

"Participants might start with small choices, such as when and for how long the hiking group will take a break, and end with big decisions, like mapping out and executing an unsupervised off-trail excursion. Our participants work up to consequential leadership, building knowledge and skills step by step. And they are forced to learn from their inevitable mistakes. “We let them fail early and often,” explains Joseph Thomas, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Lakefield Family Foundation Distinguished Military Professor of Leadership and a NOLS instructor. “The more times they fail, the more long-lasting the lessons.”

How could this model be replicated and enhanced in order to make it a lifelong, sustainable habit of leadership for young people?  



3 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Mira Rao

This is a great idea, and can be used in collaboration with some of the other "inspirations" that have been posted so far! I love the idea of encouraging failure. The experience of failure is critical in the formation of a great leader - someone who understands the risks involved and realizes that a collaborative and supportive team environment is as important as a strong leader and a clear mission.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Looking forward to what folks come up with in the Concepting phase – starting this week!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is great Joe. Thanks for sharing. I've been digging deeper into Nature-based learning and the NOLS is a great example of success. I hope we can expand on this in the next phase. Robert